Cape Town fragments

I’m in Cape Town, the Mother City of South Africa, for the International Federation of Library Associations conference. I experience fragments of this layered city…

Jetlagged at dawn, the call to prayer in Bo-Kaap, former home to freed Indonesian slaves.

The charming, tough-as-nails guesthouse owner who tells me “Don’t go round smiling at everyone like an Australian – you’re in Africa now my dear”.

Dancing and singing along to Mzansi Youth Choir with Dumisa and Lungile, visiting librarians from KwaZulu-Natal province.

The ever-present, iconic bulk of Table Mountain, topped with its tablecloth of cloud.

Children chasing squirrels in The Company Garden where the Dutch East India Company grew their veges.

Young people, old people, begging in Long Street.

District Six, where an inner-city residential area was bulldozed by the apartheid regime and which remains as a bare and weedy scar, contested by rival lobby groups.

Being buzzed in through steel gates to hip new design shops in semi-industrial, semi-funky Bree Street.

Here are a few snapshots.  Early morning transit through Johannesburg.

The colourful houses of Bo-Kaap.


Advertising on a shop in Bo-Kaap.

Table Mountain.

The view from halfway up.

The Company Garden.


City Hall. Nelson Mandela made his first post-prison speech from this balcony. 

The Open Design festival is currently running at City Hall. There’s a growing design scene in Cape Town. 

Eclectic architecture: 

Sculptural barbed wire on a building site hoarding.

Table Mountain seen from the V&A Waterfront.